The month of May has started out as a very reflective month for me. May 23rd will be my last day in the Adult Ed office after 12 years in ministry at St. Michael’s. It has come quickly, and by choice, however, it’s still kind of nostalgic. I hope you understand if I tear up and then laugh my head off, all in the same conversation should our paths cross!
I came to St. Michael’s specifically to work with Monsignor Neal. Having known him at Ascension Parish years ago, we did keep in touch. To work with this wonderful homilist who reached me with each homily, his witness in faith, was a gift for me.
I loved his description of coming to work at St. Michael’s. It was what he called “collaborative ministry.” It was as he described it! We all worked together. We all prayed together each week at our staff meeting. We held birthday lunches. We had retreats for the staff. We enriched our own faith lives together and supported each other in their ministries. With that, we could go out. The priests, the staff, the people in the pews, and the families all contributed to the working of this vibrant church.
Our annual retreats were a huge highlight for me. The retreat team has become my “go to” team for honest opinions, counsel and prayer. Out of that early retreat one year began our 3rd Saturday Women’s group which has met every 3rd Saturday for one hour every month for at least 7 years! The friendships from that group have lasted and have deepened because of the faith we have shared together. It is life-lasting and life giving for me. This is something I will not give up.
Small Church groups have come and gone, but the ones that sustain are the ones made up of parishioners who support their fellow members through prayers and bonding. They are committed to keeping Christ in their life and need the help and support of their small group. These groups are the life blood of the parish. This is something I will not give up, either!
Hospitality. Man, HOSPITALITY. Hospitality can turn a cold venue into a warm and inviting place of welcome. That can be our home, our workplace or our parish. It gets to be contagious! We have worked hard in establishing what Msgr. Neal calls a “crack” Hospitality Commission who welcomes new parishioners by phone as well as the stranger who walks through the doors of the church. All they need is a genuine smile, eye contact, and the words, “Welcome to St. Michael’s!” Hospitality is something none of us can afford not to extend.
Holy Family Servers began with a dream. Talking out the need and the opportunity with volunteer Fran Zellmann one time, not knowing that she had restaurant experience, the engine started rolling!! Not only did Fran have the experience, she had a grown daughter who paid her way through college on the wait staff of a country club. Not only that, but she would see if her daughter would be interested in helping to set up a program for 8th grade and up to be servers at our brand new Holy Family Center. Thus, was the relationship formed with a new friend, Deann Zellmann. Deann has taken energetic “kids” and turned them into polished gems called the Holy Family Servers. They have logged hours upon hours in their black and white uniforms serving the many hungry parishioners at events in the Holy Family Center. Some have even been offered employment from the caterers who come in for the events! This ministry enables the server to actually have something on their very first resume! Hopefully, this program will carry on for many years to come. (Part II of the dream would be to offer a scholarship or two to graduating Seniors who have served well. Dreams do come true…I hope this one does!)
These are some of the many memories that I cherish as I retire. The people are the key to my happiness here. The Holy Spirit hovers all around us and in each of us. It’s been so fun!!
Here is a reflection from the Diocese of San Diego that about sums up my feelings as to our connection to our church…I hope you like it.
Thank you all for the opportunity to serve.
My church is composed of people like me. I will help make it what it is.
It will be friendly, if I am.
Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them.
It will do great work, if I work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver.
It will bring other people into its worship and fellowship, if I invite and bring them.
It will be a church of loyalty and love, of fearlessness and faith, and a church with a noble spirit,
if I, who make it what it is, am filled with these same things.
Therefore, with the help of God, I shall dedicate myself to the task of being all the things that I want my church to be.